Williams braced for All Blacks challenge
June 3, 2007
Canada captain Morgan Williams admits his side must turn their attention to damage limitation after establishing themselves as the best team in North America.
The Canadians thrashed the United States 52-10 in Saturday's Barclays Churchill Cup Bowl final at Twickenham to amass a total of 109 points from their last two meetings with their border rivals.
Now that their supremacy across the Atlantic has been established, Ric Suggitt's team are braced for a daunting tour to New Zealand where they face a Test against the All Blacks on June 11.
Former Saracens scrum-half Williams is under no illusions as to what lies ahead - Canada will also play New Zealand Under-21s - but is confident his side are progressing ahead of the World Cup.
``Over the last two or three games we've undoubtedly proved that we're the best team in North America,'' he said.
``We're looking forward to the New Zealand tour but we're not going there with any ideas of grandeur. It will probably be 80 minutes of defence.
``We're not going to beat them but we can keep it respectable. We need to Test ourselves against the best.
``We've been together for three weeks for the Churchill Cup and we've got another two-and-a-half weeks ahead of us. That's great from a development point of view.
``We're improving all the time with more of our guys playing professional rugby.
``The players back home in Canada are feeding off that too because they know if they do well they might attract attention from a club in England or France.''
Much of the positivity that swept through the USA camp following their gutsy narrow defeat by Scotland in the pool stages was drained by this thrashing.
The Eagles have been drawn alongside England, South Africa, Tonga and Samoa in a difficult World Cup pool and will face a damage limitation exercise of their own in France this September.
Head coach Peter Thorburn believes creating a professional league in North America is crucial if the USA are to compete at Test level.
``We need a professional environment, it's just a matter of when. Hopefully within the next 12 months it will happen,'' he said.
``The Churchill Cup is essential for us. Without it we have no development programme. We don't have anything else - just World Cup qualifiers.
``This is like our Six Nations. Rugby is a sleeping giant in the States. When it gets in the schools, colleges and on TV then it will take off.
``Americans love physicality in sport and of course the ball is in play much longer in rugby than gridiron.''